Setting a world-class standard for sustainable building

Case Study

20 Martin Place

Never shy of a challenge, Built was approached with the task of taking an existing 1970s commercial tower in Sydney’s busy Martin Place and turning it in to a world leading sustainable A-grade office tower for Pembroke Real Estate.

The outdated, 20-storey tower required a complete and extensive refurbishment as replacement was not an option since it exceeded Local Environment Plan height restriction put in place after the tower was built.

The existing building was stripped back to its steel skeleton, removing tonnes of hazardous asbestos in the process, before rebuilding the tower from the ground up with a new high-performing, environmentally responsive façade system, setting a world-class standard for energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

With so much of our cities full of existing buildings that underperform to today’s sustainability standards, 20 Martin Place showed the possibilities of taking an unremarkable 1970’s tower and transforming it into a high performing 6 Star Green Star building for today’s tenants.

Value: $110m

Client: Pembroke Real Estate Australia

Architect: Crone Partners, Jamie Carpenter & Associates

Completion date: September 2015

The New Way Forward

The New Way Forward

A unique challenge requiring unique solutions

A refurbishment of this nature and complexity is unlikely to ever be repeated. The challenges faced were immense including underpinning the structure, relocating the core, guaranteeing the floor area, removing all traces of asbestos within the building, delivery of a complex façade and high sustainability aspirations.

Built undertook a meticulous 20 week early contractor involvement planning approach to create a clear path for the project with detailed workshops and even the construction of three-storey full scale mock-up to test the design and performance of the new proposed glass façade.

Stripping the building to its skeleton involved heavy planning to deal with the removal of asbestos in the existing façade and ensure the safety of neighbouring tenants and the thousands of pedestrians that use Martin Place daily. The 11-step demolition methodology developed by Built works amounted to something akin to surgery to safety remove the hazardous waste while testing and diverting up to 16,000 tonnes of non-hazardous concrete and brick from landfill.

The design also required to the building’s core to be relocate to the north of the building to open up and increase the building’s floor plates by 800 sqm per floor for greater tenant flexibility. This required extensive underpinning of the steel structure with a temporary structure steel bracing and rock anchors.

Through working collaboratively to find innovative solutions Built was able to deliver on the client’s vision to create signature asset on Martin Place.

A lesson in world-class sustainability standard transformation

Built was contracted to deliver a 5 Star Green Star Office As Built rating but instead targeted and achieved a 6 Star rating without additional cost to the project budget.

A key initiative in the ratings uplift was the reduction in structural steel and concrete achieved by reusing the exiting building structure. In the process of retaining the 5,500 tonnes of existing structural steel and procuring responsible building materials and 30% cement replacement on all concrete mixes, the building vastly reduced the embodied carbon of the project by a huge 40%. This was then complemented with a range of initiatives to enhance environmental performance of the building.

The project was one of the first commercial office buildings in Australia to install long life LED lighting across the entire floor plate with building sensors to reduce energy usage to occupied spaces only after hours. Sensors were also deployed in fire stairs to overcome the need for stairs to be lit at all times and significantly reducing energy use as a result.

The new façade both enhances the look of the building with 420 overlapping rows of dichroic glass panels, creating a shimmering exterior of reflective shingles while also providing high sustainability performance through optimised lighting, heating and cooling efficiency.

The project also incorporated water savings through efficient water fixtures, centre-zone low-temp VAV system with perimeter active chilled beams providing cooling at the façade while minimising energy draw on central plant and low-toxicity finishes.

Rejuvenating the centre of Sydney’s CBD

The 20 Martin Place redevelopment was a key project contributor to the rejuvenation of Martin Place as the city’s premier pedestrian boulevard connecting Sydney’s major CBD precincts.

By not just simply refurbishing the original commercial tower but reimagining it into a sustainable A-grade building with a premium retail podium and laneway activation, the project has attracted a new wave of blue-chip tenants and luxury retail brands including Omega, Tesla and Peloton as well as continuing to provide a flagship ANZ branch.

Built completed the project two months ahead of schedule and it has since won numerous awards including the Master Builders of Australia state awards Outstanding Construction, Best Commercial Refurbishment/Renovation/Extension over $50m, Excellence in Energy Efficiency, Excellence in Resource Efficiency, Excellence in Environmental Management, Best Use of Glass, Innovation – New Product (for the cast glass on podium level) as well as national awards for Environment and Energy Efficiency as well as the President’s Award and the 2015 award for Site Safety Commercial Projects $50m & over.

This 20-storey building features:


The sustainability impact of this project includes:

6 Star Green Star design and As Built rating

5 Star base NABERS energy rating

5.5 Star NABERS water rating


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